Overheard in the Halls: Episode Thirty One

Silent Senior: [pointing with increasing rapidity and intensity at the floor] Squeak!

Sober senior [leaning closer, then sitting up again]: Wow. They really do blend into the carpet!

Me [moving to intercept whatever it is]: Yes, they really do!

I chased the centipede into a corner and whacked at it with my foot until it stopped moving, mostly.

Me [returning to podium]: I need a pair of roach-kickers. Blunt toe boots don’t do it.

Senior snickers followed, and we resumed our discussion of the Hungarian Golden Bull.


The Voice from Above (PA system) chimed. I looked up from writing a lesson outline.

VfA: This is a tumbleweed alert. Those parked in the north lot, be sure to check for tumbleweeds under your vehicles.


Yes, I had tumbleweeds packed under my truck by the end of the day. I started the engine and backed a few meters, releasing the weeds, then turned off the engine and made sure nothing was still around the exhaust. We have not had any flaming tumbleweeds yet, but no one wants to be the first.


Stubborn Junior: But Sister Hygiene, why not?

Sister Hygiene [school nurse, health teacher]: We have a skeleton already. In the closet. I’ll get it out when appropriate.

Jaunty Junior: But Sister, we want the big, giant one. You know, like in the yard at [address redacted].

Sister H. : SIGH! No.

Geek Chorus: Aaawwwwwww.


The fall semester has just begun.

Me [being excited about Salamis]: The Persians attacked here. They outnumbered the Greek fleet—

Speedy Freshman: Clunk. Zzzzzzzzzz. [head hits desk, sleeping ensues]

Me [resigned]: Cross-country season.

Rather later in the semester . . .

Me: This was radical! Locke’s claiming that power was not given to the government by any deity or inheritance, but loaned by the—

Two Tall Freshmen: Clunk. Zzzzzzzzzzzz. [heads hit desk, sleeping ensues]

Me [resigned]: I see that basketball season has begun.

Rest of class nods heads in near unison. Practices for sports are from “oh dark early” until class starts, then again after school.


I’m in the main workroom, checking my in-box for tests.

Mr. Long-Slavic-Last-Name and Mr. Pascal (computer wizard) are studying a small mountain of boxes piled up outside the janitorial closet, waiting to be broken down and recycled.

Mr. Pascal [in best Brain voice]: Are you pondering what I’m pondering?

Sr. Botanica [wandering out of workroom]: We build a fortress and hide from the students?

Four faculty share very broad smiles, then disperse.

Overheard in the Halls: Episode 30 or The Wildlife Edition

Fr. Martial: There has been a slight change of schedule for the quarter-break.

The faculty rustle quietly.

Fr. Martial: Instead of Monday being a full day off, it will be a half day, with a short faculty meeting in the afternoon.


Faculty: Grrrrrrrrrrrrr


Me: Oh, froggy!

A medium-sized frog was hopping around the end of the high school section.

Miss Verbum: Catch it!

Nimble Sophomore: Yes, ma’am.

After several attempts, the gentleman carefully caught the tidy brown frog.

N.S.: It’s slimy, ma’am.

Me: I wonder if Sr. Botanica is missing anyone.

Miss Verbum [grins a little]: We need to get it out before Sr. Parabola sees it and gets upset.

[The secondary math teacher dislikes reptiles with great vehemence and verbosity. I do not know why]

The young man escorts the frog out to where frogs belong. Sr. Scholastica appears from a meeting and hears the report.

Sr. Scholastica [in a thoughtful tone]: I wonder if the biology department is missing anything?

Great minds . . .


Startled Senior [who is new to the area]: JesusMaryJoseph it’s a snakewithlegsohmygosh!

Br. Vector, Fr. Gonzales, and I all drift toward the commotion.

Judicious Junior: No, snakes don’t have legs. It’s just [reverses rapidly] . . . a really, huge, um, large centipede. St. Patrick save us!

Very large. And attempting to visit the lower-division English class currently in session.

Fr. Gonzales deflects the large insect, and it is sent to the Happy Hunting Ground.


There I was in the classroom, minding my own business when . . .

Bang, rattle, bang, thump, thump, thump, all muffled, from outside the room.

I get up and ease to the open door, peering around.

Fr. Jerome [the Latin instructor, pounding on the outside door]: Thump, rattle, rattle.

I hurry and let him, a dozen or so students, and their standard bearer, into the building.

Fr. Jerome [irked]: Thank you, Miss Red.

He and the students go past, loaded for bear. I know they had been marching to pronouns, but further I dared not inquire.

Overheard in the Halls: Episode 29

*cue “Morning” from Peer Gynt Suite*

A teacher strolls down a long hallway, savoring the relative quiet. She raises her can of soda pop to her lips . . .

Voice from Around the Corner: AaaaaiaiiiiEEEEEEEEEEE!

Me: [races down the hall, cuts the corner and skids to a stop]

Jolted Junior: Spider! Spiderspiderspider Biiiiiiiig spider!

Me: [studies wolf spider heading for the outside door] You are quite correct. I’ll get the door for him.

The spider went in peace under his own power. Headed for the van used by the teaching sisters to commute to Day Job.

* *******

A confused soul wanders into my classroom during chapel hours.

Me: Can I help you?

Confused Soul: Um, I think this is my first period class?

Me: You are?

C.S.: Mumbles name

Me: No, you are in Brother Vector’s math class next door during first period. This is chapel period. Which chapel are you in?

C.S: Um, Protestant Two? I think? I left my schedule at home?

Me: Let’s go check with Mrs. Hutchinson.

C.S. [As we go up the hall to Mrs. Hutchinson’s room]: This is kinda my second first day. I’ve been sick.

Me: That’s quite alright. Some days are like this.

Indeed, she was in Protestant Two, and Mrs. Hutchinson took over.


I was being invisible behind the desk, covering a study hall while Sister Scholastica was on retreat.

Frazzled Freshman [sprawled in chair at study carrel] Uuuuugh, I’m doooomed.

Sober Senior [looking up from calculus book]: It’s only the second week of school. No one is doomed until the fourth week.

Secular Senior: Unless you are among the reprobate, not the elect. But that’s only if you’re Protestant. The rest of us are safe. [returns to history book]

Frazzled Fresh: I skimmed the stuff for English and I still busted the quiz.

Sober: There’s your problem.

Frazzled: But that’s what you do, right? Find something on the ‘net, answer the questions, get an A. That’s what we did at my other school.

Sober: You went on the net? For English? How do you think you can learn it without actually reading the story?

Frazzled: Magic?

Sophomore Standing at the Printer: Just read it. One short story won’t kill you.

Secular Senior [muttering from behind history book]: No, but Sr. Mary Conjugation will.

I stayed where I was, invisible, and trying hard not to laugh.


Sister Scholastica (aka The Dean) returned from her retreat refreshed and out of the loop. We crossed paths in the secondary workroom.

Me: Good morning, Sister.

Sr. Scholastica: Good morning, Miss Red. [stirs coffee] How have things been?

Me: Mostly quiet.

Sr. Scholastica: Mostly quiet?

Me [counts off on fingers of hand not holding tea mug]: First hairy spider of the season, two misplaced student laptops, major communication lapse between here and the usual place so Señora Piñata is rather irked, and the junior students have been counseled about how to return to class when they come back from off-campus chapel.

Sr. Scholastica [sips coffee]: Generally normal, in other words.

Me: Yes, ma’am.

At Last! The End is Nigh

Of the academic year, that is.

The Dean is making the rounds to determine that all the grades are in. Properly. On time.

“Yes, this includes you, Sr. Mary Conjugation.”

The faculty are willing, at least after 0830 local time.

“Yes Sister Scholastica, as soon as the rest of the coffee gets through our systems!”

Father Martial and the Dean have their hands full keeping everyone on track . . .

“No, you must stay in the classrooms until the bell sounds, even if you are done with your exam!”

Occasionally the faculty also need a gentle reminder.

“You, too, need to clean out your desks and snack drawers. And the workroom refridgerator. Even St. Jude couldn’t assist with what was found last May.”

And of course IT has to remind everyone:

“Back up over here, then do this and this, don’t forget to check this fourth drop-down menu, chase your tail, then conclude, then log out, and then make sure all the peripherals are shut down, and THEN power everything down for the summer. See? Easy.”

The last student departs, the last grades are entered, closets cleaned, ‘fridge emptied. . . and the Exodus is reenacted:

We’re free! We’re Free! (At least until August).

Overheard in the Classroom

I am grading in Sr. Mary Conjugation’s room due to testing overflow in “my” classroom. OK, I’m cowering in the far corner, grading as quietly as possible and being invisible, while she is also grading. There is a math club meeting in progress across the hall. They are working on contest prep, which includes call-and-response math questions. Even with the door shut, their voices carry, so Sr. Mary Conjugation put on classical music to mute the enthusiasm.

Door unlocking sounds.

Me and Sr. Mary Conjugation [both looking up from mounds-o-papers]

Fr. Martial: [Headmaster] Sister, Do you have a moment?

Sr. Mary Conjugation: Yes, sir.

Fr. Martial: A question about—

Mozart’s “Dies Irae” from the Requiem erupts from the speakers on her desk. Sr. Mary Conjugation reaches over and turns the music down.

Fr. Martial: Inspirational music, Sister?

Sr. Mary Conjugation and I both hold up what we are grading.

Sr. M.C.: Yes, Father.

Fr. Martial: Carry on. As I was saying . . .

Overheard in the Halls: Episode 28

Capitalistic Senior: That stinks.

Soggy Senior: I know. I can’t believe it didn’t split. Shot my portfolio.

C.S.: Have you tried shorting the S&P 500?

[clangs and bangs of lockers]

Soggy Senior: Not yet, but I’m starting to consider it. I did pretty well shorting the Dax.

Me [lurking in classroom, cleaning desks]: Thus the cryptic traces on the whiteboard.

I share a classroom with the economics teacher, Mr. Cache.

* * * * * *

Continue reading

Overheard in the Halls Part 27: Another Episode of As The Pages Turn

Me: [Under my breath] Now what? [Louder] Yes, ma’am?

Sister Scholastica [aka The Dean]: Please remind students about social distancing. Jaunty Junior and Silent Sophomore were holding hands as they walked to class.

Miss Verbum: Oh dear. That’s awkward.

Me: [pinching bridge of my nose] Very awkward.

Sr. Scholastica: Oh?

Me: We both had to change our seating charts because Jaunty Junior has been flirting in class with Joyful Junior.

Teaching trio: Unison Groan. Continue reading

Overheard in the Halls Part 26: As the Pages Turn

Sister Scholastica [aka The Dean]: No, you may not give a grade for study hall.

Señora Arriba: Not even if they deserve it? It’s seniors.

Sr. Scholastica: No. [Thoughtful pause] Fr. Gonzales may have some . . . inspirational thoughts he can deliver.

Señora Arriba: Deo Gratias.


Father Martial, the headmaster, was a military chaplain for many years. Sometimes it shows . . .

Fr. Martial: . . . So, in conclusion, we are setting up a new Table of Operations for the academic dean’s office. [rattles off a list of changes and re-organization] Any questions?

Masked faculty all look around the room, then back to Fr. Martial. Lots of head shakes.

Fr. Martial: None?

More looking around. More head shakes.

Fr. Martial: Surely someone has a question.

Mr. Long-Slavic-Last-Name raises his hand.

Fr. Martial: Yes?

Mr. L-S-L-N: Is there any nut mix left in the workroom?

Much laughter ensues. Sr. Hygine stands up and is waved at.

Sr. Hygine: No. The chocolate went first, then the nut mix and the wasabi peas. There’s still dried fruit, though. It’s good for you.


Frazzled Freshman: Miss Red, is everything on the test?

Me: No, just most of it.

Fr. Fr.: Arrrrrgh. [dramatic slump out of chair and onto floor]

Rest of class: golf claps

Me: 4.6. You need to work on sticking the landing, and your arms look stiff.

Fr. Fr. [picks self off of floor]: Yes, ma’am.


I’m in my work period. Sr. Scholastica and the other senior faculty are in a staff meeting.

My phone pings. “Please come to room [redacted] with a measuring tape. Fr. O’Riley.”

I go to the appointed classroom. Fr. O’Riley and Mrs. Hankie gesture to a middle school student who appears to have grown. I measure the space between skirt hem and knee. It is excessive. “Thank you, Miss Red.” Mrs. Hankie escorts the young lady to the emergency closet to get a size larger skirt.

These things do happen, which is why we have a uniform exchange program for students who need it.


The Voice from On High, aka the PA system pings. Everyone looks up at the ceiling.

“Teachers and staff, there are pickles in the main workroom.”

I hear the sound of fast-moving faculty feet. By the time my class finishes and I can get to the workroom, only one jar of home-canned hamburger slices remained. I grabbed it and fled with my loot. Other folks can have the mini-gherkins — the hamburger slices are MINE.


Miss Strings [the orchestra teacher]: “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

Sr. Verbum: “But not until Friday. The sophomores have an in-class project on Thursday.”